Dauntless Wine Cø. Helps Veterans Translate Their Military Talents From the Field to the Farm

The Forest Gove business has a fellowship program for vets who work in the vineyard and a grant program for those who want to pursue an education in agriculture.

After multiple active-duty tours in the U.S. Marine Corps, Ben Martin built a successful career in marketing. Something was lacking in his life, however—not an uncommon sentiment of veterans reintegrating into society. After hearing about a veteran-run winery in France, Martin turned to viticulture. The satisfaction of working in the field and having something to hold in his hands at the end of a hard day’s work brought new purpose to his life.

Martin’s fascination with viticulture as postwar therapy manifested in Dauntless Wine Cø., a Forest Grove winery founded with friends and fellow veterans Ryan Mills and Paul Warmbier. The business employs almost exclusively vets, providing an invaluable kinship.

But Martin’s efforts to support former service members didn’t end there. In 2021, he launched the Dauntless Veteran Foundation, a nonprofit that helps veterans translate their military talents from the field to the farm.

The foundation has several arms: Vets in Dauntless’ fellowship program work in the vineyard while receiving a stipend; the grant program supplies veterans with funds to pursue an education in agriculture, offsetting the expenses of a career transition; and the viticulture-adjacent rehabilitation program focuses on garden-based therapy.

Dauntless wants to lower the age of farmers, too. The team of founders cites 58 as the median age of farmers in America, adding that two-thirds of those retiring are not replaced—a trend that increasingly forces small farmers who are leaving the workforce to sell to Big Ag.

Martin continues to work locally (Dauntless has been operating since 2014) to share his knowledge of wine production with fellow veterans. Through the Dauntless Veterans Foundation, he seeks to spread his message further, setting an example of agricultural rehabilitation for veteran organizations nationwide. As the community of veteran-farmers grows steadily around Dauntless’ efforts, so too, they hope, will opportunities for post-service careers in agriculture on a larger scale.